I spend so much time reading and reviewing new releases that I rarely have time to revisit books from the home library purchased years ago but never read. Earlier this month, I finally unwrapped William Arceneaux's Acadian General: Alfred Mouton and the Civil War (Center for Louisiana Studies, 1981 2nd revised & expanded ed.). I picked it up at a special sale from the publisher, in reckless disregard of my favorite Louisiana Civil War consultant's sage advice to not bother with it. It turns out I probably should have listened. It's not that it's a terrible book, just dated past being particularly useful.
A member of a distinguished and politically prominent Louisiana family (his father was a governor), Jean-Jacques Alexandre Alfred Mouton was one of those West Point graduates that immediately resigned to seek greener pastures but returned to military service with the outbreak of the Civil War. Elected colonel of the 18th Louisiana, Mouton was wounded at Shiloh. Returning to West Louisiana with increasing levels of rank and responsibility, he fought in many battles and skirmishes in the Lafourche district, Bayou Teche region, and Red River (where he was killed at Mansfield).
Acadian General describes at some length the travails of the Acadian people of North American and how they established themselves in Louisiana after their expulsion from British Canada. While the family history and section describing Mouton's antebellum life and career is helpful, the book doesn't really enhance our understanding of the military events chronicled inside, but, to be fair, when the first edition was published in 1972 (I believe) the material would have seemed far fresher than today. Still, as the reader, it's a very limiting experience to read an officer's military biography with no private commentary or campaign perspective from the man himself. The 2nd edition does add a roster of the 18th (just a list of names), a copy of Mouton's academic marks at West Point, some poetry, and a bibliographical essay.